Monthly Archives: July 2020

Grandma’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

Photo Jul 19, 3 00 55 PM (1)

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Hi Everyone, 

Hope all is well and for my members in the northeast, I hope you are handling the heatwave and my thoughts and prayers go out to my members in Texas who are dealing with the hurricane. My prayers for all.

Today’s post is about a traditional Italian summer favorite, Zucchini Flowers. Some of you may remember my first post about zucchini flowers in July 2018 (I will repost the original link at the bottom of the page). 

I have been posting this dish on my personal email quite a bit this summer and I have been asked to reprint the recipe once again.

Many people are unaware of this favorite Italian delicacy and for Italians everywhere, it is the beginning of the summer garden harvest.

When I used to entertain guests and serve this appetizer with a creamy ricotta and lemon/basil dip, people were shocked that the zucchini flowers were edible. They are delicious!

The first time I posted about this delicacy, I included the batter that I had been using for many years which included beer as part of the batter ingredients. Well, a week ago, a very generous neighbor gifted me some zucchini blossoms and I wanted to fry them immediately because they are best on the day they are picked and I didn’t have any beer in the house so I went old school and prepared them grandma’s way. 

Grandma used a simple batter of AP flour, club soda, salt & pepper, and baking powder that I wanted to share with you.

Whisk all the ingredients together very well, and coat the flowers lightly and fry to a golden brown. It’s as simple as that.

This batter brought back memories of grandma running out to the garden in the early morning when the flowers are open (and you can see if there are insects inside) to collect the blossoms to make either plain fried zucchini flowers or she would add them to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Every bite was a culinary treat.

Absolutely delicious.

Always a summer treat. Grandma picked the male flowers (long skinny stems). The female blossoms have a small zucchini attached and keep those on the vine until fully grown and ripe.

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(The dip is whipped ricotta with a drop of lemon juice, lemon zest, and some chopped fresh basil).

I really hope you try this recipe and enjoy every bite.

So here is the recipe for Grandma’s Zucchini Flowers….very simple and delicious…

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of flowers ( approx 30 flowers)
  • 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 24 oz. club Soda
  • olive oil

Directions:

  • Wash flowers under cold running water, drain and dry the flowers and remove the stamens inside, then remove the sepals on the outer leaves- be careful and watch for insects (mostly bees) inside the petals.
  • Cook’s Note: if the flowers are too wet, they will splatter once they hit the hot oil. Be Careful…
  • Dry the flowers on paper towels or on a tea towel and prepare the batter.
  • Heat 1-1/2 inch of olive oil in a skillet. Dip the flower in the batter and let excess drip off. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side turning once until golden brown. (crispy not soggy).
  • Remove with a slotted spoon & transfer to a paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain excess oil.
  • You can sprinkle with sea salt or grated cheese and serve with ricotta dip.

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 There are many other recipes with leftover blossoms. 

For example, I add some diced and fried blossoms with some sauteed zucchini, cheese, sauteed onions, and a few eggs to make a wonderful summer quiche or add some fried flowers to a pizza. Both delicious treats.

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Below is my original post from July 18, 2018, with a little more detail and a recipe for stuffed zucchini flowers…..enjoy

Click on the link to open

https://dishingwithdiane.com/2018/07/18/summer-delight-fried-zucchini-flowers/2018 original post

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails

I Love hearing from you.

Photo Jul 08, 4 55 59 PM ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

 

Mascarpone Polenta with Mushrooms and Fried Egg

 

My rendition …

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Hi Everyone,

How many of you are like me and on occasion are stumped as to what to make for a weeknight meal? The days when you just can’t think of something new to make after you have run through your usual “go-to” meals in your head that you know will be a hit, but they just aren’t what you want?

I am fortunate that it’s just Bob and I and he is not a picky eater. If I said, “let’s have ice cream for dinner” he would be okay with that.

I always have frozen meals that I have prepared when I make a larger portion than we can eat in one sitting but nothing I had in the freezer appealed to me.

I still cook as if my son lived home even though he moved out eight years ago (it has to be an Italian mom thing. My mom never cooked for just two people after I got married either). I usually save those frozen meals for days I will be at the hospital all day so we have a hot meal when we come home.

No, I needed something different and then it hit me. A few years back (seems like yesterday but it was 7 years), Bob and I attended the Feast of Saint Anthony in the North End of Boston, and one afternoon we wanted to leave the festivities of the Feast and find a quiet restaurant so I read some reviews online and we booked a reservation at a restaurant called Nebo (stands for North End Boston).

It is a Southern Italian restaurant owned by two sisters (the Pallotta sisters- Carla  & Christine) and they happen to have roots in Bari, Italy like my family. The majority of recipes are family favorites passed down from their mother, so we had to try it.

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 We were fortunate enough that Carla and Christina came to the table to spend a little time with us and we spoke of our heritage and food and traditions. Lovely hosts.

(yes, they tan and I don’t)
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I found a fantastic appetizer on their menu that I thouroughly enjoyed and decided to try and recreate it at home – simple ingredients and it quickly comes together plus it’s delicious.2013-08-23 18.54.42

The appetizer is creamy polenta with mascarpone cheese with a saute of wild mushrooms accented with sage and a fried egg in olive oil to the top of the masterpiece. The restaurant and the hosts are both fabulous and I highly recommend a trip.

(Their appetizer does not have mascarpone cheese) 

So here is my rendition…..

You can even make this a brunch item.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of mixed mushrooms (cleaned and chopped)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (divided)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sage 
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • sprig of thyme
  • sage leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  •  1 1/2 cups of your favorite grated cheese (I use Locatelli)
  • polenta
  • water or milk or chicken broth for polenta – your choice
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • large eggs for frying

Directions:

I now use the 5 minute polenta in a box as opposed to the original slow cooked 45 minutes polenta so this step is very easy.

Prepare the polenta as per package directions which usually includes bringing water (or milk or chicken broth) to a boil with a pinch of salt and the chopped sage. Gradually pour in the polenta, stirring continuously for about 3-5 minutes until the polenta has thickened and pulls away from the pan. Take it off the heat and add the mascarpone cheese and Locatelli cheese.

For the mushrooms, melt 2 tbsp. of butter & 1 finely chopped shallot in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and for the first few minutes do not move them and let them start to carmelize. Then add 1 clove of chopped garlic, salt and pepper and continue to saute until golden brown. If the pan gets too dry add 1 tbsp more of olive oil.

Add 1 sprig of thyme and 1/4 cup sherry and scrape up the brown bits in the pan. Cook for 1 minute more to cook off the alcohol then shut the heat. Check for seasoning.

Last step, in another skillet,  add olive oil and fry a large egg and try not to break the yolk.

Assembly, add 2 tbsp of butter to the polenta and mix well to keep it creamy and place in a dish, add sauteed mushrooms on top of the polenta and top the dish with a fried egg and garnish with sage. 

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We had a wonderful weekend and I even got to meet Maryann Esposito from the “Ciao Italia” TV show and she autographed an Italian apron for me …

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Here is a little slideshow of some of the highlights of our trip ….

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I hope you try this dish and enjoy it! If you do, let me know what you think….

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails

I Love hearing from you.

 

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Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

Photo Jul 09, 8 47 17 PM (1)

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to share a recipe with you and one I was actually so surprised that it was requested.

Last night I made pork chops with vinegar peppers (a favorite meal of my mother’s) and posted the pic to my personal Facebook page. A lot of people remembered this old Italian favorite from their childhood and asked for the recipe, so I decided to share it with my blog members.

It is usually prepared with all HOT cherry peppers but I am now making it half hot and half sweet peppers because as years go by, Bob’s stomach is liking super hot and spicy less and less.  These are the peppers I use…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many variations to this dish. I hope you try this variation and enjoy it.

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Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

Ingredients: serves 4

  • 4 pork chops (I prefer Berkshire pork)
  • 12 oz jar of sliced hot cherry peppers***
  • 12 oz jar of sweet cherry pepper strips
  •  1 cup of vinegar from the jar ( I use a combination of the hot and sweet vinegar- you can use just one type if you prefer).
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 2 yellow onions- sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves – diced for the onions
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil (I used a garlic-infused olive oil)***

Garnish with Parsley Flakes

Cooks note***whole hot cherry peppers can be used as well but it is very hot and you would only need between 5-7 depending on how hot you want the dish. Also found in a jar in the Italian food aisle. You will have to slice and de-seed the peppers.

Cooks note*** – if you do not have infused garlic oil, saute halved garlic cloves in olive oil on a low flame until the garlic takes on a deep color and then discard the cloves.

Instructions:

(I marinated the pork chops in a thin layer of olive oil, salt and pepper and a spring of thyme for a few hours in the refrigerator and then took them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to get to room temperature).  Pat dry before adding to the pan.

When ready to cook:

Over medium heat add 3 tbsp of infused olive oil to a large fry pan. After a few minutes when the oil is fairly hot, add the pork chop and cook for 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops, and set aside. 

Add the peppers to the pan and saute for 2- 3 minutes, next add the sliced onion and saute for 3-4 minutes or until they wilt and start to get color, next add the diced garlic and seasonings and saute for 1 minute.

Saute this mixture for an additional 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the pork chops back and the reserved vinegar from the jars and 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine. Lower the heat and continue to cook covered for 30 – 40 minutes.

To make a thicker sauce (almost a glaze), remove the cover, and raise the heat so the sauce reduces down to your liking.

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I usually serve this dish with sliced roasted potatoes …

Any peppers and onions and potatoes I have leftover I make a frittata with some eggs, herbs, and cheese the next day.

Italians are taught not to waste anything.

Enjoy!

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,

Diane

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Ask your family and friends to share, like, comment, and join DishingwithDiane.com and become part of the family!

Once you become a member, you’ll never miss a post.

Also, continue to send me your comments and emails

I Love hearing from you.

 

 

So glad to be back…..I deeply missed you

 

thankful heart THANKFUL HEART

Hi Everyone, 

How are you? I hope that everyone is safe and well and that your families are doing well.

I cannot tell all of you how much I missed you and missed preparing the posts and reading your comments and having such wonderful conversations regarding food and tablescapes.

 I would like to fill you all in on what has happened to me during my months away and let you know that I haven’t abandoned you or the blog. I will be back in full force but it will take a little time so I am starting off slow with recipes.

Since my last post which seems like ages ago; not only did our country get hit with this awful Covid19 pandemic, I had personal health issues as well that prevented me from coming back to the blog.

My new heart showed rejection after 15 months (a surprise to all of us but it happens) and I had no choice but to be admitted to the hospital under the careful watch of the transplant team and heavy doses of very strong anti-rejection medications. I spent 10 days in the hospital and Bob was not allowed to be there with me in the hospital or see me for the entire stay. There was a no visitor policy in the hospital due to Covid19 so this was a solo experience and the longest that Bob and I have been apart in all our 35 years together.

After 10 days of treatment and awful side effects, the transplant team came in to tell me that the rejection has cleared and they could send me home on very strong oral medications that I need to be on for at least the next 4 months (along with all the wicked side effects I have been going through). I will have to have additional medical testing and blood work every week along with telehealth appointments with my doctors until I have to be back in the hospital for my next biopsy to check on the rejection status. I need to have readings of no rejection for three biopsies in order to change my medication once again and head down the path of recovery. I am so grateful that this hospital nightmare has ended and I am able to come home to Bob. It was very difficult being away from Bob and only able to facetime a few times a day and my heart went out to all the other patients and families in nursing homes, assisted living and group homes that can’t see their loved ones in person. 

My heart also went out to all the families who lost loved ones from the pandemic because I had a front-row seat to the tragedy that was happening in the hospital and I was scared to death that I would become sick from that as well but the hospital had me in isolation. May the victims rest in peace with the angels and their families find strength. My takeaway from this hospital stay was please wear a mask and practice social distancing – this is not a hoax or a joke. Follow science because this is real and scary and protect yourself, your family (especially the vulnerable), and your neighbors. As the saying goes, “we are all in this together”.

It is going to take us a little time to get the new schedule together and sort out the medications and new restrictions as we face this new step of the healing journey. But we have been faced with challenges before and we will keep going forward and try to remain strong and positive together. A small price to pay for the gift of life and having the ability to be alive for more years with the people I love.

I am sure that before you knew me, many people thought that once a new organ is received, all is well and you are good as new and that is not the case. Transplant is not a quick fix to normal that happens after a new organ and the precious gift of life has been granted and received, but a daily struggle to stay healthy with many restrictions to get the best outcome. Most people don’t realize that the life of a transplant patient is not unlike our lives under Covid-19 protocols – isolation, masks, gloves, disinfectants, constant hand washing, social distancing, and constant vigilance is just a way of life for a transplant patient and can become overwhelming at times. The world now lives like a transplant patient and everyone can agree it’s not easy.

However, it is truly a miracle and I am so blessed to have a fabulous transplant team and one of the best hospitals to rely on for their care and expertise. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today and I think of that every day of my life and thank God for my blessings that I am one of the lucky ones.

just wanted to say thank you for following my journey from the very beginning and for all your love, prayers, and constant support. I am not just saying the words, I deeply feel your love. It truly means the world to me, Bob, and Michael. You are our family and you give us the strength to go on, step by step, and day by day. We couldn’t do this without you.

I love you all very much and I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to have each and every one of you in my life- my prayer warrior family (and BTW- you do great work. Our prayers have been answered).

So, let me settle in and have a good happy cry and I will keep you posted.


Stay safe, stay well, and appreciate each day and each other.

With my deepest love, 

DishingwithDiane